Yesterday, like so many others across the globe at this particular moment in time, I was ordering some groceries online to remain compliant with self-isolating advice handed down by the government. I perused shopping items, added all of my selected items to my cart, and proceeded to the checkout. So far, so good.
However, when I tried to enter my information on the payment page, it suddenly became apparent that there was an outage, and I was unable to complete my purchase. The experience got me thinking. Since this was a peak time, how much was this downtime costing the retailer? My guess was at the very least several thousand, if not tens of thousands.
Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon issue. Just a few years ago, we undertook a study in partnership with Worldwide Business Research (WBR). Through our interviews with companies in the Retail, Travel, Digital and Gaming sectors, we discovered that a mid-sized retailer loses, on average, around 3,000 euros per minute when payment pages go down.
With 76% of respondents experiencing at least one complete outage in their payment services and around 88% of cases taking a few minutes to a few hours to solve, that’s some serious lost revenue. By those numbers, a downtime of half an hour could cost a mid-size retailer 90,000 euros in lost sales. Our research concurred, finding that the vast majority (72%) of interviewed enterprises admitted to financial losses ranging from 10,000 euros to around 100,000 euros at the hands of payments downtime. An unfortunate 11% lost up to a million euros, or in some cases, even more.
But the damage of payments downtime goes far beyond mere lost revenue. The number one concern of CFOs, VPs of Finance and Payment Controllers that we interviewed related to shaken consumer confidence. An inadequate payments experience can not only cost you revenue immediately; it can cost you millions in lost future sales from previously loyal customers.
Given the ongoing situation, and the fact that peak shopping hours are spreading across more extensive periods, maintaining payments uptime has never been more critical for enterprises. But what can merchants do specifically to maintain uptime during peak times? Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to minimise the risks.
Minimising Payments Downtime During the Coronavirus Pandemic
When assessing your payments partner, it’s essential to understand that 100% uptime is impossible. Bearing that in mind, you need to look at what you can do to keep those moments of downtime to an absolute minimum. The following parameters are what you should be looking to evaluate when it comes to payment service providers.
1. It’s all about the nines
While it’s impossible to achieve zero downtime, there are considerable differences in uptime numbers. Almost all reputable providers will provide at least 99% uptime, which may sound great on the surface; however, you should be striving for much better. As our table demonstrates, the difference of just a few decimal points can have a dramatic effect on the time spent without the ability to process payments. Thus, make sure you pay close attention to stated uptime percentages.
2. Let a provider’s track record speak for itself
It’s all very well for a payments company to advertise uptime percentages, but do they have a proven track record of delivering them? Delve a little deeper into a company’s capacity. Do they use two or more full capacity data centres, for example? The use of these centres along with machine learning technology helps to monitor uptime, keep systems continually updated, and predicts traffic volumes to avoid downtime during peak periods.
3. Never let maintenance be an excuse for downtime
In this day and age, there’s no excuse for downtime as a result of maintenance. Any trustworthy payment service provider should be able to maintain its infrastructure without requiring downtime. Backup servers and an “Always on” approach are critical requirements from your payments partner.
4. Insist on 24/7 support
System failures can occur at any time of the day or night, which means that support only available during office hours is useless to you as a merchant. You need an instant response whether you have an issue at 2 pm or 2 am. The best providers have around-the-clock support to ensure outages or reported problems are fixed within a mere matter of minutes, instead of hours.
Prevent Payments Overload and Avoid Downtime
Peak business hours have been extended right across the day in the new “work at home” climate in which we now find ourselves. Therefore, it’s essential to re-examine your relationship with your payment service provider. You need to make sure they are delivering the high uptime you require during these weeks and months of unprecedented e-commerce sales volume. Just a few minutes of downtime at a crucial moment can cost you tens of thousands instantly, and hundreds of thousands in shaken consumer confidence thereafter.
The best way to achieve this is to work with a full stack payment partner. That way you aren’t trying to marry up disparate systems whilst simultaneously facing the downtime threat posed by each separate element of your payments infrastructure. You also need a payments service partner with a proven track record of delivering above 99.99% uptime (including periods of high demand), as any less than that could see you lose sales at a crucial moment. Finally, you need to have the availability of customer support at a moment’s notice, since swift corrective action protects sales and increases customer satisfaction.
Here at SafeCharge, we provide you with all-encompassing payments solutions you can rely upon. If you want to speak to us in more detail about how we manage to deliver best-in-class uptime, why not talk to a member of our team who’ll be more than happy to walk you through our payment solutions.